Today we have a video premiere from rockabilly/honky-tonk outfit, The Shootouts. "Hurt Heartbroke" is snappy number that'll get you stepping with a longneck in your hand in no time. RIYL: BR549, The Reverend Horton Heat, Carl Perkins.
Lead Singer Ryan Humbert on the song:
“Hurt Heartbroke' is a rowdy rockabilly rave-up; a live-and-learn tale of faithless love and gold-digging deception written by our longtime Shootouts sideman, Al Moss. It was originally performed by a band that he performed with for many years, Hillbilly Idol, from around the Cleveland, OH area. I’ve always loved the song and am glad we took a stab at putting our mark on it. It allowed us to dip our toes in the Rockabilly genre a bit too — which is, of course, the middle sibling between Rock & Roll and Country. It’s also just a blast to sing and play!"
Today we have a fun video premiere from Stuffy Shmitt. From his December album release (physical copies ship this month - see the link below) Stuff Happens, “Sweet Krazy” is an intense guitar and horn driven alt-country rocker with a rockabilly flair and a punk soul. The video is pure energy and color. It kicks all kinds of ass. I'm really happy we got to debut this.
Stuffy’s take on “Sweet Krazy”:
"Sweet Krazy" is a song about getting sprung from the machine I’ve been locked up in forever and going totally psycho-powered free-swingin’ fast—fast out of my mind, wowie-zowie wham-bam. Translation: when my bipolar bullshit kicks the depression out of bed and I go right into 10th gear out of the sheets and into the world—look out, it’s mania time! They call it manic depression and when I’m lucky enough, or forget to take my meds, I torpedo into mania, I have superpowers and there are no rules, no consequences. Being in a total fired up mania frees you to the point of electric-zap danger, who cares, cross the damn wires, boom and accelerate.
When I moved to Nashville, my New York City depression moved with me, but I’ve bounced back hard now, who knows why—the caliber of players down here maybe, or the East Nashville community that adopted me and my music.
I was in complete abandon with my new soldiers on "Sweet Krazy." Chris Tench (Media Pig) produced my new album Stuff Happens and played guitar, and Brett Ryan Stewart (Wirebird Productions) and I co-produced. Brett played and sang anything he wanted. Dave Colella on drums and Parker Hawkins on bass knocked it out of the park.
The beloved singer/songwriter Aaron Lee Tasjan, who played in my band and on my records in New York, moved down to Nashville about the same time I did. He introduced me to an unbelievable songwriter and rip-it-up guitar player named Brian Wright. One night, I exploded all manic, scream-writing this song "Sweet Krazy" in my car, and called Chris, Brett, Brian, Aaron, Dave and Parker, and said, let’s rock this one, boys.
It’s basically just a blues on steroids, so it took me very little hopping up and down for them to get it. We all played at the same time—1,2,3,4 and out of the gate. They cranked my mania up and we rocket blasted the tune straight through the collapsing soundproofed ceiling! One take and we went home.
It’s just a sweet little American rock & roll tune about girls and cars and being totally messed up. Tradition where I come from.
More info about Stuffy and his new album below the song player.
Stuffy Shmitt - Stuff Happens
Stuff Happens is Stuffy Shmitt’s first record in eight years because, well, he went crazy. “I was living in New York and my brain was on fire. I got that bipolar thing. I was bouncing between full-blown depression and a jailbreak manic buzz rush. After nearly a decade of getting 86’d from bars in the West Village, I made it to Nashville six years ago and finally got my head screwed on tight enough to make a new record.”
This albumfinds Shmitt not quite exorcising his demons, but exercising them—wrestling with them until they’ve been knocked around enough to be manageable. “I didn’t realize until the record was finished and my wife, Donna, pointed it out,” Stuffy says, “but this album is all about trauma. Disasters big and small. It was an accident, though. It was all subconscious. I guess, eventually, that shit’s gotta come out.”
A madcap tour through the folds of Shmitt’s charmingly off-kilter brain, Stuff Happens runs the full spectrum of manic depression in glorious stereophonic sound. There are bizzaro blues rockers and exhausted, desolate Americana ballads—some bleak to the bone, and others begrudgingly grasping at hope; never so naive as to look for a silver lining, but dogged enough to skim the horizon for the dull glimmer of aluminum. And when you need a jolt, there’s plenty of naked, unapologetic, torn-and-frayed American rock & roll to carry you kicking and screaming through all that beautiful sad-bastard music; the full-tilt end of the spectrum best represented by “Sweet Krazy,” a revved-up ode to mania that features fellow Nashville songsmith guitar shredders Aaron Lee Tasjan & Brian Wright.
The story of the album begins with a chance encounter Shmitt had in an East Nashville dive. “I walked into The Five Spot, and there was this tall, skinny guy with a beat-up hat at the bar,” Stuffy says. “I didn’t know him, but I walked up to him and said, ‘Didn’t you push me off a ferris wheel once?’ Which actually is a Steven Wright line—I stole it, I admit it—but it's a great line. So I said that to him, and he looked at me and shot back, ‘Oh, that was you?’” Yes, it was love at first sight for Shmitt and Nashville singer-songwriter and producer Brett Ryan Stewart.
Meanwhile, that same night, as Shmitt was performing at The Five Spot, his wife sat down at the bar next to a long-haired character who was throwing back Jameson and talking in word pictures about the lyrics he was hearing. That guy was Chris Tench, who would become the guitar player in Shmitt’s band and ultimately the producer of Stuff Happens. “So here’s where it gets really freaky,” Stuffy says. “come to find out, Chris and Brett not only knew each other, they had partnered on music projects for years, owned a killer studio together and were both razor-sharp rockin’ madmen.”
Brett wound up engineering and co-producing the record with Stuffy and Chris. “I’ve always produced all my own stuff,” Shmitt says. “Don't get in the way, don't tell me what to play, don't say what goes where because I'm the boss. But this time I did a trust fall. It was the first time I gave up the reins, and I’m glad I did because they’re brilliant. It was magic how we fell in together.”
Stuffy took his band out to Stewart and Tench’s studio, 20 miles south of Nashville in Franklin, Tenn., where they could clear their heads and work without distraction. The measured pace and attention to detail and mood helped ease Stuffy out of his comfort zone. “Chris and I did two months of pre-production, sitting in my living room with acoustic guitars breaking down the songs. It was a new thing for me. I hate to admit it because I like to do stuff on the fly, but it made a big difference. The pre-production work gave us a roadmap and freed us up to get lost in scenic detours. Working with Chris and Brett was all about groove and flow. They connected with the stories I was telling, and so did the rest of the band, which was Dave Colella on drums, and Parker Hawkins on bass. By then I’d worked with the band for a couple of years, so they got me, no learning curve, they knew the groove and the flow, too. We’re all brothers and everything clicked in a big way.”
The lush sonics of Stuff Happens make a compelling backdrop for Shmitt’s austere, blunt-force poetry and gutter-of-consciousness lyrics. His songs are disarmingly direct and personal, built with words you might find scrawled on a crumpled napkin in some sawdust jukebox bar with chicken wire on the window and a pig foot in the jar. These are not your garden variety genericana tunes. He’s weird. And honest, too. When he opens his mouth to sing, Shmitt can’t help but tell the truth, consequences be damned. Even when he’s doing his best to lie his scoundrel ass off, he falls face first into the truth. His stories are our stories. He makes us feel stuff.
“They were looking at their photograph / Black and white of a catered night / In Madison Wisconsin / Tuxedo and ball gown / The future dead ahead / Bright and shiny like the long smooth silver car / Now they don’t know where they are,” Shmitt sings on “Mommy and Daddy,” a heart-crushing rumination on his folks’ final years.
Shmitt grew up in Milwaukee in a family every bit as wild and unhinged as he is. “I don’t come from a family with a culture of tradition. I had a drunk drummer mother who wrote poetry in her sleep, and a dad who played guitar and had a thing for fast cars. We read a lot of books, listened to a lot of music and protested social injustices. Our home was loud and nasty and violent. We didn’t spend a lot of time hugging or talking about feelings. We didn’t have religion. I didn’t understand spirituality until I dropped acid as a teenager, and when I nearly died of pneumonia a while back. And then I got manic, which comes with superpowers and parties with angels.”
Stuffy ventured to New York, then L.A. then back to New York, playing in an endless parade of rock & roll bands. It was a gas. Loud, fun, kickass shit. He was in Actual Size, X-Lovers, Petting Zoo and a whole bunch of other projects. He snorted coke with Johnny Rotten at The Cat and the Fiddle in Laurel Canyon, and he made his bones pumping through blown-out speaker cones on both coasts, stalking the stage with his gang of musicians, and recording with greats including Willy De Ville, David Johansen of the New York Dolls, The Band's Levon Helm, Violent Femmes' Gordon Gano, and Jayotis Washington and The Persuasions. But after a while all the drummers in his life kept blowing up like it was This Is Spinal Tap, so Stuffy decided maybe he’d better start playing solo acoustic gigs instead. Half a life and a half-dozen albums later, with Stuff Happens he’s managed to synthesize the disparate sounds of his past into his finest, most impactful record yet. And what better time to release your lighting-rod masterpiece than in the midst of a global pandemic?
“Staying inside all the time makes me absolutely nuts—I start crawling the walls,” Shmitt confesses. “But what are you gonna do? God, I miss just walking down the street and feeling my boots on the pavement, going into a club and saying, 'Ok, this band sucks, let’s go to another other club.' I feel caged. Rock & roll is supposed to be live. You’re supposed to turn up the bass and listen to a person’s guts. If you play the new record loud enough you’ll definitely get some of that, but I’m holding out hope for when we can all get back out there in the flesh, pile into a club, order two shots of Jack, a pint of Kahlua with a side of Pop Rocks, and just go wild. Let the bass echo in our chests.”
Jonathan Tyler has written the song that 2020 needs. “I wrote ‘Hey Old Friend’ before Corona and the shutdowns were ever a thought, yet it weirdly fits this new normal,” he says. “It’s the first track of mine that I’ve engineered and recorded that’s ever gone this public.”
Shot in and around iconic Sam’s Town Point in South Austin, the chorus line “Someday these days will be worth remembering” is from a sign inside the bar. Tyler is joined on harmony vocals by Nikki Lane, his “partner in crime, girlfriend, pal, something else, and friend. I love and respect her very much and I'm a lucky guy for having her in my life.”
The easy, comfortable song is emblematic of a certain kind of friend: “The kind of person you can always pick up right where you left off. The one that might also pick you up from jail or help you fix the broken AC in your car in the middle of a Texas summer,” Tyler says. “It could be years or since early March 2020. Eventually we all want to hear that story or song we've heard a thousand times before and taken for granted.”
He adds, “It’s probably the most country-sounding thing I’ve ever done.”
And not a moment too soon. It’s a song worthy of Lyle Lovett. Give it a spin.
We’ve got a video premiere for you from countrified roots rockers The Joe Stamm Band today. Joe’s rich, character-filled voice is the centerpiece of the band's new single “Bottle You Up,” a love song from the heart. It’s a commercially accessible sound without kowtowing to the trends of the day, instead keeping it real with an in-the-pocket rock ’n roll band playing the hell out of this catchy country rocker. RIYL: Chris Stapleton, Whitey Morgan, Cody Jinks, The Steel Woods.
Joe on “Bottle You Up” -
"There’s been a grand total of two times that I’ve done one of them, “I just wrote this song and now I’m posting a video of me playing it to Facebook” type of things. One of those times was just yesterday (as I’m writing this up). The only other time was a couple years ago and the song was 'Bottle You Up.'
I’d just got home from a Sunday afternoon gig, and I sat down at my kitchen table with a little glass my mom had recently purchased for me. It said, “Apple of My Eye” on the side of it. I started pouring Busch Light down into it. Then emptying it. Repeat. Pretty soon I was writing a song and about 25 minutes later, I had “Bottle You Up” down on paper.
All them beers convinced me I should take the song straight to social media. So I did, and pretty soon folks were requesting “Bottle You Up” at shows. It didn’t take long to realize we were going to have to cut it on our next record.
While you can still find that old acoustic performance on YouTube, we did decide to go down to Nashville and have our buddies at Midtown Motion put a bonafide music video together for the song. We’re pretty happy about the results. Though I’m not sure the feller in the video was by the song’s end…"
More information about the Joe Stamm Band and their upcoming album below the player.
Joe Stamm Band - The Good & The Crooked (& The High & The Horny)
The Joe Stamm Band makes countrified roots-rock with an emphasis on the roots, drawing on Stamm's small-town upbringing in rural Illinois for a sound that blends heartland hooks with Nashville twang. It's a sound that's taken the songwriter from the college apartment where he strummed his first chords to venues beyond the Midwest, sharing shows with personal heroes like Kris Kristofferson and Chris Knight along the way. With his debut studio LP, The Good & The Crooked (& The High & The Horny), Stamm begins building his own legacy, leading his band of road warriors through an album rooted in all-American storytelling and guitar-driven swagger.
Recorded in a converted barn outside of Iowa City, The Good & The Crooked (& The High & The Horny) is a studio album that owes its electrified energy to Stamm's live show. It was there — onstage, guitar in hand, headlining a club in Peoria one night and playing with artists like Tyler Childers and Easton Corbin the next — that Stamm sharpened the edges of his self-described "black dirt music," rolling Americana, country, and blue-collar rock & roll influences into his own style. Some songs were autobiographical, spinning true-life stories of love, loss, and life in Middle America. Others, like the barn-burning "12 Gauge Storyline," were character-driven and fictional. Whittled into sharp shape by a touring schedule that kept Stamm and company on the road for as many as 150 days a year, those songs took new shape in the recording studio, shot through with amplified riffs, grooves, and arrangements that rolled just as hard as they rocked.
Fiction and autobiography come together on the album's title track, a coming-of-age anthem that finds Stamm writing about the humor, heartache, charm, and chaos of youth in America.
"Everyone falls into at least one — and usually several — of those categories," he says of "The Good & The Crooked (& The High & The Horny)." "That song really captured a sense of things, a sense of people, and a sense of what it's like to grow up in America."
For Stamm, growing up in America involved a good amount of time on the football field. A teenage quarterback in a sports-obsessed town, he led his high school team to back-to-back state appearances, becoming a local celebrity along the way. When an injury brought his sports career to an end during his college years, though, Stamm found a new passion in music, diving into the work not only of classic country crooners like George Jones and Johnny Cash, but also the modern-day heavyweights of Texas' country scene, including Randy Rogers Band, Pat Green, and Reckless Kelly. Before long, he was writing his own songs — and just like his favorite Texas artists, he rooted his music in a strong sense of place, bringing a midwestern spirit to his own brand of country music. Stamm was soon packing venues across central Illinois, trading the athletic fame of his teenage years for an equally rewarding — and longer lasting — brand of recognition.
"I like writing about characters and coming up with stories," says Stamm, whose diverse past — including his time in an evangelical Christian household, his athletic days behind the line of scrimmage, and his creative rebirth as country music's newest rule-breaker — is woven throughout The Good & The Crooked (& The High & The Horny), lending personal details to even the most fictional of songs. "Songwriting is where experience and imagination meet," he adds, "and each song finds a different spot on that spectrum."
With The Good & The Crooked (& The High & The Horny), the spectrum is as wide as it is compelling, with Stamm roping together a range of honky-tonk hooks, rock & roll guitars, heartland twang, and country swagger. He's a songwriter. A bandleader. A storyteller. And while he'll always be a proud midwestern native — a man shaped by the creek bottoms, fields, and fence rows of Metamora, Illinois — he writes from a more universal perspective on his full-length studio debut. These aren't just his stories, after all. They're all of ours.
Joe Stamm Band's The Good & the Crooked (& The High & the Horny) is due out September 25.
We’ve got a new performance video premiere today from Golden Shoals. It’s an upbeat singalong tune sure to give you a pick-me-up during “these uncertain times.” “Everybody’s Singing” includes heartbreak (yes songs can have that and still be uplifting), great references to classic songs, fiddling, and fun… what’s not to love? It’s the first song off of their upcoming album (out Friday!) and a great introduction to this talented duo if you haven’t heard their first two releases.
From the band:
This song celebrates and rolls eyes at the wacky people and places we encounter as touring folk musicians - friends and contemporaries in cowboys costumes, white jumpsuits, and punk rock mullets; house parties, hotel conferences, and bluegrass bands playing ‘80’s songs. The chorus ties it all together with a collage of lines from well-worn folk and country songs you hear time and time again in this line of work. We gave this one a countrified production treatment, and I had a ton of fun playing faux-tele licks on a Gibson SG.
The road to Golden Shoalshas been a long, fruitful journey for Amy Alvey and Mark Kilianski. The duo has toured on foot—gig to gig with backpacks and instrument cases—for weeks at a time; called Asheville, Boston, California, and New Jersey home; and lived in various moving vehicles on the road for the past seven years under different names and incarnations. After all of that, their new self-titled record, Golden Shoals, represents a fresh start for Alvey and Kilianski; one that is more inclusive of the inspirations they’ve taken in since beginning their musical journey. Out August 7th via Free Dirt Records, Golden Shoalscontains twelve new songs which examine love and loss, personal growth, and political strife; all through an inward-facing lens and void of pretense or preachiness. Today, American Songwriter premiered “Love From Across The Border,”a rollicking, slide-guitar laden ode to empathy and righting the wrongs of the past. "Love From Across The Border” can be heard hereand Golden Shoalscan be pre-ordered hereuntil its August 7th release.
Engineered and mixed by Matt Lohan and produced by Lohan, Alvey, and Kilianski, Golden Shoalsfeatures only one additional musician; Landon George’s upright bass and drums. Together, the aforementioned musicians wove a bright and intricate tapestry from only four threads. Golden Shoals opens with “Everybody’s Singing,” a straightforward country swing tune about some not so straightforward personalities. Alvey and Kilianski proclaim the song “celebrates and rolls eyes at the wacky people and places we encounter as touring folk musicians—friends and contemporaries in cowboys costumes, white jumpsuits, and punk rock mullets; house parties, hotel conferences, and bluegrass bands playing ‘80’s songs.”
The album ebbs and flows from the joyfully ironic opening track all the way to more emotional and understated tunes like “I’ll Fall In Love Again”; a gentle lament about wanting to be more than friends, to no avail. “Rather than cutting off our friendship, we worked through those difficult feelings, became better friends for it, and I moved on to new loves,” says Kilianski. “A couple of years after its inception, the song adopted a twist ending, turning the cliche country song trope of unrequited love on its head.” The album closes with “Sittin’ Pretty,” an incredibly self-aware take on the guilt and anxiety that bubble up when coming to grips with one’s born-with-it privilege. “The song ‘Sittin’ Pretty’ speaks to the powerlessness I feel when reading the news about the troubling issues in our society like wealth inequality, climate change, and school shootings,” says Alvey. “When touring full time, the thought of joining a protest march or becoming active in local politics feels impossible when most days you’re figuring out where you’re going to sleep that night after the show.”
The clever touch Golden Shoals leave on their songs is what sticks with listeners; a twist at the end, a smart rehashing of radio-hit lyrics, the upbeat but heavy introspective looks into the mirror. Their musical journey seems to have hit its stride, especially as Alvey and Kilianski dig in, unpack, and reevaluate their own stories, observations, trials, and successes. Their compassionate and thoughtful songwriting takes center stage in this new chapter of the band, while their undeniable musicianship continues to uplift and inspire the project. For this patient, tenacious band, the Shoals are indeed Golden, and ripe for more great music to come.
From her forthcoming album, Roses. Gregg, on the intensely personal nature of this poignant song:
All of my grandparents died of dementia and Alzheimer’s. I remember thinking when I was young it would be an easy way to go, to just slowly forget. After I met my husband, I realized that would not be the case. That it may be the hardest. Mando Saenz and I wrote "Have You Ever Tried to Lose Your Mind" about remembering to hang on to every moment as hard as you can because you may not get to keep all the memories. Corey Pitts really brought the song to life in this video. Even in a socially distanced environment and a one person cast with very little experience in front of the camera (me) he was able to dig into the meaning of this unusual love song and I think it turned out beautifully.
FTM readers get an exclusive look at the video today. Tomorrow, she’ll take over the “Women of Americana” Instagram account, which you can check out here.
Roses will be released on Friday, August 14.On Monday, August 10, we’ll post our in-depth interview with this talented singer-songwriter.
More information about Skylar below!
Skylar Gregg engages in a gripping cocktail of hard work, humor, and self-discovery, expressing vivid lyrical imagery and raw grit that soaks into every note of her songwriting. The Nashville native musician translates that into a mixed bag of retro southern music immersed in old soul, 60’s and 70’s country and blues.
Gregg’s sound stems from being raised around musicians. Her family moved to Nashville to pursue music careers - her dad as a songwriter and her mom as a piano major at Belmont University. Their influence led to Gregg performing at the age of 6. During her early college years she joined her first real band. In 2013, she started pursuing her own path as a songwriter, which included the release of two records, Walkin’ in The Woods (2015) and Time Machine (2018). Both were self-produced and recorded with her husband, Taylor Lonardo, in their home studio. On her upcoming record, Roses, she elevates her homegrown roots by enlisting producer Jon Estes, whose contributions on stage and in the studio have included John Paul White, Steelism, Robyn Hitchcock, Langhorne Slim, and Andrew Leahey.
Exuding a Muscle Shoals meets Nashville vibe, the upcoming album compiles stories spanning Gregg’s life over the past decade. Gregg says, “I think I have spent the past ten years learning who I am. And by proxy who my artist is. And that discovery has been my biggest life lesson. This record is the realest I have ever been.”
Some of the songs were written at the start of the ten-year journey and some were written in the studio as late as 2019. When songs take a multi-year journey, it’s inevitable that growth will follow: both in the songwriting and the subject matter itself.The first single, “Long Way Back,” which is also the oldest on the record captures a snapshot in time - a plea from Gregg for her brother to find himself.
And then there are songs like “Landfill” which almost grow with her. A song inspired by driving past a landfill, the song serves as a reminder to recycle, and about how much garbage we make as humans, both literally and metaphorically. Two years ago Gregg started therapy which led her to know what the song was really supposed to be about. She says, “As southern people, or maybe just people, in general, we tend to really pack our troubles down and keep marching on. I thought that was a sign of strength. But in reality, it was making me weak. I had become a giant pile of trash. I was indeed a Landfill.”
Songs written in the middle of this ten-year stretch revolve around themes of addiction, mortality, and abuse. A folkloric tale co-written by Alexis Thompson about “The Bell Witch” explores the story of a witch that lives in a cave in Adams, TN on a property that once belonged to John Adams. The story goes that Adams’ family would show up in town and have bruises and cuts all over them. And John would say “ We have a witch in our house!”. Thompson and Gregg revisited the story giving it a Jordan Peele type twist where John was actually the assaulter.
The final song in the chronology, “Everythings Gonna Be Fine” showcases Gregg’s more peaceful state of mind. A song she wrote in the studio, it’s a reminder to chill out and to not worry so much.
Gregg’s evolution as a songwriter expresses itself in an interesting dichotomy. She says, “It is interesting looking at these songs compiled together in a timeline. My own writing seems to get increasingly more complicated and then simple again. Maybe that is something I have learned about music over the last decade. Complicated isn’t always better. Sometimes a simple message can really resonate.”
Today we’ve got a video premiere from the Texas band Market Junction. Perhaps you’ve heard of them. They’ve opened for Jack Ingram, Flatland Cavalry, Ray Wylie and more. They’re big in their home state, and soon, hopefully, they’ll be big everywhere with the release of their new album Burning Bridges on August 7th.Market Junction plays smooth, thoughtful country folk that’s sure to appeal to fans of John Baumann, Adam Hood, and Jason Eady. The performance video we’re premiering is for the song “Western Coast,” a wistful tune with beautiful, understated harmonies and a pointed loneliness that saves its sharpest arrows for the final lines.
Market Junction released the single “A Stone Will Sink” this past Friday. More information below the video!
Market Junction’s Matt Parrish on the song:
"You can change the scene, chase a dream, leave your hometown, put a couple thousand miles on your old truck, and even put down new roots...but you can’t outrun a heartache. Even a prizefighter runs out of gas in the later rounds. Old habits are hard to break, so just plan on waiting them out.
This song was started at a writing session for an artist named Cory Morrow. Justin and I were at his place near Austin, Texas, helping him with songs for his new project when we stumbled upon the guitar intro and idea. It took a solid year to finish this song, but it’s become one of our favorites on the record."
Market Junction. Not a place as the name implies but rather the name of a band that has engaged fans with their songs of love and loss since 2012 when they released their freshman effort, Heroes Have Gravestones.
In 2011, Matt Parrish gifted friend and fellow songcrafter Justin Lofton a vinyl pressing of Ray LaMontagne’s God Willin’ & The Creek Don’t Rise for his birthday and the fires of inspiration were ignited. The pair set out on a journey to create the kind of music they not only loved to listen to but music that they loved to play. Since those early days, the band soon expanded its lineup to include Taylor Hilyard on bass guitar and Michael Blattel on drums, sharing stages with Cory Morrow, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Jack Ingram, Radney Foster and more.
“We’ve done nothing the conventional way”, says Parrish.“It’s taken us nine years to figure out who we are and what direction we want to take our careers,” adds Lofton.The combination of lyrical prowess and Lofton’s fretboard mastery has resulted in a sound that is rooted in place and time, but that transcends both. While the band has found success in their beloved home state of Texas, they are ready to show the rest of the world what they can do. The wait will have been well worth it for Americana music fans across the country - Market Junction will release their latest LP, Burning Bridges, on August 7, 2020. This collection of songs tells one story, one of a young man learning about love and its consequences. Sometimes the heartbreak spurs the traveling, and other times the traveling is the cause of the heartbreak.Either way, Burning Bridges will break your heart in the best kind of way, and have you reaching for the keys.
Today we have a video premiere from Kentuckian Andy Brasher for the song “Drugs in the Tip Jar.” It’s a tune from his debut album Myna Bird, out April 3. “Drugs in the Tip Jar” is a driving country rocker that takes a peek into the life of a touring musician, many of whom would kill for a tip jar at this moment. The song is catchy and real, with strong vocals and a healthy dose of humor and easy-going heartland rocking. Highly recommended to fans of John Mellencamp, Chris Knight, Steve Earle, and Cody Jinks.
This is a true story from my time in Nashville. I lived there in the early 2000's. When I first moved there, I was working on songwriting primarily. I focused on getting co-writes and playing open mic nights at the Bluebird and Douglas Corner Cafe, among others. I wanted to get a publishing deal. I roomed with a couple of friends in a small apartment, but, I still had to pay my part of the rent, so I'd gig as often as I could. Broadway wasn't really my thing (although I played plenty of those shows if I had to)...I'd try my best to play little neighborhood bars around Nashville.
One such place wasn't far from my apartment, so I ended up there a lot. I was glad to have a gig so close to home, but let's just say...I lived in kind of a "sketchy" neighborhood.
After my first gig at this place, I checked the tip jar and was pretty surprised. Yeah, I had a few dollar bills, a good tip or two...but I also had a little street drug store hanging out in the very bottom. You name it..."go fast", "go slow", pills, a joint...and this kept happening at that place! It led me to wonder, 'What makes them think I want this? Is it me? Is it them? Do I want this?'. Aside from encouraging me to take a little self-inventory, I thought it also warranted a song.
More about Andy under the video!
Andy Brasher - Myna Bird
Kentucky's Andy Brasher brings fresh energy to the Americana music scene through his vivid storytelling, soulfully captivating vocals and mastery of his instrument -- all of which are on full display with his stunning debut solo release, Myna Bird.
Having already headlined shows across the U.S. and internationally, Brasher’s previous band Brasher/Bogue has also shared the marquee with Tim McGraw, Kid Rock, Kenny Chesney, Hank Williams Jr., Charlie Daniels, Blackberry Smoke and many more over the course of their tenure.
Produced by Harry Lee Smith (Restless Heart, Angeleena Presley, Martina McBride) and multi-Grammy award winner Ross Hogarth (Keb’ Mo’, Shawn Colvin, REM, John Mellencamp) at Nashville’s renowned Blackbird Studios, Myna Bird is equal parts modern Americana and stone-cold country, laden with folk philosophy and clever turns of phrase. Smith & Hogarth’s expert production flourishes are apparent throughout, from the warmth of the acoustic guitars, radio-ready electric guitar tones and licks, the crack of each snare hit, to Brasher’s singular vocals nestled neatly on top of each track.
Opener “21” sets the tone for the record with soaring, reverb-tinged electric guitars layered with urgently-strummed acoustic instrumentation. It’s a vibrant tune harkening back to “the good old days” and the innocence of youth on the cusp of adulthood -- the perfect soundtrack for a windows-down weekend drive through the countryside.
Title track “Myna Bird” showcases Brasher’s introspective side, the country ballad’s title taken from the nickname his mother gave him as a child due to his ability to quickly memorize song lyrics from the radio (Brasher notes with a chuckle that she “probably meant mockingbird”). It’s also a gutting tribute to the late Wayne Mills, a legend of the honky tonk circuit, as well as a friend and a mentor to Brasher before his tragic passing.
“He spent his whole life going out there and playing music. His original music was every bit the truth...it was so great,” Brasher recalls. “But he was running himself ragged getting to and from these bars, forced to play ‘Wagon Wheel’ and ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ over and over.” Therein lies the myna bird comparison -- both artists had their own music and message to take on the road, but they end up playing the same songs everyone’s already heard in order to keep themselves on the road -- a duality of working the honky tonk circuit.
“If She Loves” also runs along the country ballad thread, a slow-burning number featuring sparse acoustic production that builds into a wall of sound led by wailing electric slide guitar. Originally intended as a love letter to Brasher’s longtime girlfriend, as it was written the song evolved into an anthem lifting up and celebrating the strength and perseverance of all women.
“Drugs in the Tip Jar” chronicles the stranger-than-fiction tale of Brasher’s early experiences playing for tips in Nashville’s honky tonks -- unexpectedly finding his tip jar filled with multiple types of contraband in lieu of cash at the end of a set. It’s a rollicking, stone-cold country song that would likely have worn out jukeboxes in years gone by.
Born and raised in Owensboro, Kentucky, music was a family affair for Brasher from an early age. After learning to play the acoustic guitar -- taught by his father and grandfather -- crafting songs became second nature for him. Brasher studied under the lyrically driven music of Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, Bob Dylan, and Guy Clark, while also taking sonic cues from rock luminaries of the era such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Led Zeppelin, and Queen. At the age of fourteen, Andy started his first band and began performing at parties, festivals, and bars in his hometown. Through his soulful interpretation of covers as well as his original works, he built a large and loyal local following that gave him the courage to relocate to Nashville and explore the music scene. Brasher refined his skills in the Music City’s renowned honky tonks and songwriting circles, gaining wisdom through valuable life lessons along the way.
In 2009, Brasher and fellow musician Dustin Bogue recorded an album of ten songs and formed the band Brasher/Bogue. While formed as a duet, Brasher/Bogue grew into a five-piece band that began their touring career on Kenny Chesney’s 2011 “Goin’ Coastal” tour. By 2012, Brasher/Bogue had produced three albums and were a staple of the festival circuit, as well as regularly supporting top national acts.
Today we’ve got a video premiere from Texas singer/songwriter Ben Danaher. It’s a piano-driven heartbreaker just perfect for sipping bourbon and looking forward to cooler weather (maybe it’s just me, but autumn brings on my sad music mood). Besides the keys, there’s also a sweeping steel guitar to lay down just the right ambience. The video itself is simple and classy, with Ben seated at the piano in a dimly lit bar. Just perfect. RIYL: Rodney Crowell, Ben Folds (for this song anyway), Travis Meadows.
From Ben: “I wrote this song with Raquel Cole. She is so amazing with melodies and led the session by humming that melody. I was in the middle of a break up and the girl I had dated went out with one of my friends. A lot of mutual friends were there to see it go down. I felt like a spectator in a really gut wrenching movie, which was especially weird when you have gotten to know that person for so long and to all of a sudden turn a corner and flip a switch to where whatever they are doing with whoever they want is none of your business.”
More about Ben under the video!
Ben Danaher Upcoming Tour Dates
August 16 - Helotes, TX - John T. Floore Country Store (w/ Aaron Lewis)
August 17 - Austin, TX - The Saxon Pub
August 18 - The Woodlands, TX - The Big Barn - Dosey Doe
“You can hurt and still feel lucky,” Ben Danaher sings on the title track of his deeply personal debut album, ‘Still Feel Lucky.’ Coming from any other songwriter, it might sound like a simple platitude, but in Danaher’s hands, it’s something far more profound, a moment of true enlightenment in the face of unimaginable tragedy. Years of pain are wrapped up in his delivery, but still he commits to the hope and the beauty inherent in the darkness. It’s a monumental task, but one the Huffman, Texas native handles with a tenacious grace on an album that, despite being born in the fires of struggle and loss, manages to forge its own path toward peace, growth, and even joy.
That Danaher turned to music to make sense of a profoundly difficult time in his life comes as little surprise to anyone who knows him; songwriting and performing are something of a family tradition. Danaher’s father and both of his brothers played music, and there had always been instruments and recording gear around the house throughout his childhood. Songwriting was, in fact, in his blood.
“My father never had a record deal or anything, but up until the last week of his life, he was still writing music,” Danaher reflects. “When I was in high school, my brother Brett started playing guitar with Pat Green. They were on the rise and having big success in Texas, so I was watching them play for 3,000 people some nights, which was also really inspiring to me.”
Drawing on the influence of legendary troubadours like Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, and Townes Van Zandt, Danaher pursued his own path as a songwriter, first making a name for himself in Texas before relocating to Nashville in 2013. Along the way, he shared bills with Ray Wylie Hubbard, Jack Ingram, Angaleena Presley, Rhett Miller, Travis Meadows, and Amanda Shires, in addition to co-writing songs for Ryan Beaver, Bonnie Bishop, Rob Baird, and Justin Halpin among others.
For his own songs, Danaher collaborated with some of Nashville fastest-rising stars, including Maren Morris, on material that blended classic country tradition with modern rock and roll sensibilities. His lyrics married hard-won wisdom and cinematic storytelling, capturing slices of life with a candid honesty that cut straight to the heart of things. Danaher quit drinking around that time, too, and began taking on extra bartending shifts to save up enough for recording sessions with producer Michael Webb, who encouraged him to bring his touring band into the studio with him.
“We got together at Mike’s house the first day and he set up a microphone in the middle of the room,” Danaher remembers. “We played the songs over and over until the grooves and arrangements all felt good, then we took those recordings home, and a week later, we came back and did it all over again until everything was totally locked in. By the time we actually headed into the studio, we had everything so tight that we cut the first seven songs in one day.”
It’s surprising to hear that an album that feels so well worn and lived-in was recorded in such a short time, but that’s part of Danaher’s magic. One spin through his debut, and it feels like you’ve known his music your whole life. That’s due in equal parts to his skillful way with memorable melodies and his gift for evocative storytelling, which conjures up vivid, fully formed characters hunting connection, the kind of men and women who might be down on their luck, but sure as heck aren’t giving up. On the soulful album opener “Hell Or Highwater,” a co-write with Morris, he mixes bluesy slide guitar and ferocious, soaring vocals in a bitter revenge fantasy, while the tender pedal steel-laden “Silver Screen” offers up a romantic ode to the last call crowd, and the slow-burning, bluesy “Jesus Can See You” calls out the hypocrisy of a particularly uncharitable Christian. “Judge and be judged isn’t that what it was that you told me alone in the dark?” he sings amid blistering fiddle and organ. “Jesus can see you breaking my heart.”
While Danaher’s character studies are riveting, it’s the moments when he turns his gaze inwards, like “My Father’s Blood,” that often hit the hardest.
“I always got told I was my father’s son or that I was just like my dad because I dreamed big,” Danaher says. “I took pride in it, and I know that he was proud of me because I was out there doing something he’d always wanted to do. I wouldn’t be living in Nashville or driving around the country in a van playing 100 shows a year if I wasn’t Bob Danaher’s son.”
It would be hard to overstate the importance of family in Danaher’s life, and the memory and influence of the loved ones he’s lost loom large throughout the album.
“Seven years ago, my other brother Kelly was murdered,” Danaher explains. “He was having a birthday party for this three-year-old daughter, and their neighbor was upset that the noise was too loud. The neighbor got into an argument with my father-in-law, and when my brother came out to see what was going on, the neighbor pulled a gun.”
The gunman ended up shooting three people before being arrested by police, and Danaher received a shocking call later that night with the news that his brother had died from his injuries.
“It took two years for the murder trial to come up, and meanwhile my dad was battling stage four cancer,” Danaher continues. “I was living in Nashville by that point, and two weeks before the trial began, I got the call saying my dad wasn’t doing so well, so I headed back to Texas. I got home and had about twelve hours with him before he passed away.”
While many of Danaher’s songs are drawn from wells of pain and loss, the music is anything but self-pitying. These are songs of revelation and redemption, reflecting a maturity and an acceptance that can only come with time and perspective. On “A Little While” and “Time Never Moves Slower,” he contemplates the impermanence of life, both in its highs and its lows, while “Getting Over Someone” reflects on the inner struggles we all face but often hide from the world, and “Over That Mountain” looks towards a day when he’ll be reunited with his brother in a better place. The album’s emotional centerpiece, though, has to be the driving title track, which stands out even on a record chock full of highlights.
“You can go through hell and get completely hardened up, but there’s always going to be this human part of you that can still feel lucky and grateful for all the good that’s in your life,” Danaher concludes. “No matter how difficult things get, in the end, there’s always hope.”
That hope is ultimately at the root of why Danaher made the album. It was a therapeutic process for him, an opportunity to make sense of the inexplicable, but it was also a chance to respond to the universe with love and gratitude despite all he’s been through.
“I’m very lucky that people want to hear my story,” he says. “If what I’ve been through can help people who listen to my music in any way, then I feel like I’ll have served my purpose in the world.”